Open Net organized and hosted the “Balancing privacy and public health in digital contact tracing in the Asia Pacific region” session at RightsCon 2021 on June 9, 2021. Director K.S. Park moderated the session and Legal Counsel Kelly Kim spoke about the contact tracing in South Korea.
View the recording of the session here.
Compared to the other parts of the world, the APAC region is considered to have been successful in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Taiwan and New Zealand had almost eliminated COVID-19 by the end of 2020. Countries took various measures from isolation/quarantine to lockdowns, and most of them, contact tracing. However, contact tracing, especially digital contact tracing, entails important privacy issues. South Korea has enforced the most extensive contact tracing measures, including location tracking and a QR code system, both mandatory.
On one occasion, more than 10,000 people’s location information collected from cell towers was accessed to figure out people who had visited some nightclubs. In Southeast Asia, Singapore was the first country to use a contact tracing app, followed by other countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. A number of these apps have technical vulnerabilities that could compromise privacy. Australia is using the COVIDSafe app and QR codes, the former voluntary and the latter compulsory. Few countries have introduced privacy-protective legislation aimed at balancing technological intrusions. In this session, speakers will share the latest updates and assessments of current practices in the region and identify best practices/suggestions that balance privacy and public health.